Hurling boss praises improved performance from Sky Blues despite Cork loss
WE were all set to file this one under ‘sickener’ for the Dublin hurlers when Anthony Daly and his surprisingly sunny complexion crossed our paths and forced a rethink.
The Clareman arrived in the press room under the Cusack Stand moments after Dublin’s 2-18 to 2-17 loss to Cork looking happier than most winning managers usually do, articulated the weight of positives he had garnered from the experience, shuffling the fewer negatives under the spring ‘to do’ pile.
Plenty of good, he thought, and nothing bad that can’t be fixed.
“Disappointed with the result but delighted with the performance,” was how Daly read it.
“Right from the start, I thought our intensity was back to where it needs to be. Delighted with that. Unfortunately, the scoreboard didn’t go along with that.
“It’s history now. Move on. Get ready for next week.”
Clearly, Daly viewed the performance in contrast to their opening-day malaise in Galway and, against that backdrop, he had every right to be satisfied.
Had Paul Ryan’s injury-time free bent right in its trajectory, Dublin would have taken a point from the game but even that, said Daly, was to miss the point.
“I was delighted with Paul because he was back to himself,” he said of the Ballyboden man, who hit eight points. “You could see in the last fortnight … the work level had really improved in him.
“It’s one of those things. It might float over when we really need it.”
Would Daly have been so mellow about the loss of a point this time last year? Probably not.
And you can’t help but get the impression that Dublin’s 2012 is much less about repeating last year’s spring heroics and more about what unfolds in summer.
Yesterday, Dublin led by four points when the closing battle was being drawn up, but the concession of two sucker-punch second-half goals made the closing stages an exciting, if unfruitful, act for Dublin.
First, the jet-heeled Cathal Naughton capitalised on a clear run on goal down the right flank of the Dublin defence to cancel out Ryan O’Dwyer’s strike of just a minute previous, and then Pa Cronin — who had faded somewhat after a stellar first half — finished from close range after Jamie Coughlan and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín extracted the maximum weight of flesh from Dublin’s failure to clear their lines.
But even if Dublin weren’t as polished as Daly might have liked — particularly in the first half when they shot eight wides — the spirit and commitment were there in abundance.
Typified, it must be said, by relative new recruit Danny Sutcliffe, who finished up with five points from play in a new wing-forward posting. “He’s a great lad,” said Daly. “But he has a lot to learn yet.”
If you were to nit-pick, conceding 2-7 to the Cork half-forward line is the place to start. Cronin and Naughton’s goals apart, Conor Lehane threatened great things before finally getting off the mark late in the first half. And the Rebels who entered from the bench all made lasting impressions, most notably William Egan, who fired over the leveller from distance before Horgan’s 70th-minute free put Cork into the lead.
“I would have settled with a draw with 10 minutes to go,” said Jimmy Barry Murphy afterwards. “But I was delighted that we squeaked it.” Cork look good now for a league semi-final spot; Dublin are still pointless along with Waterford, although league position isn’t occupying Daly’s thoughts just yet.
“It’s a savage month for everybody,” he said.
“There is everything to be fought for and we’ll fight for everything.”
– Conor McKeon, Evening Herald